Columbus State University Part of Georgia Initiative to Ensure Its High-Need Schools Have Excellent STEM Teachers

Inaugural Class of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows to Help State Construct Strong Pipeline of Science, Math Teachers

ATLANTA, Ga. — As part of the state of Georgia’s commitment to close achievement gaps and provide all students with high-quality teachers, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation announced the inaugural class of Georgia Teaching Fellows Tuesday at the capitol with Gov. Nathan Deal.

Thirty-six individuals will be part of the first cohort of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program in the state, which will be offered at Columbus State University, Kennesaw State University, and Piedmont College during the 2015-16 school year. The highly competitive program recruits both recent graduates and career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the STEM fields—and prepares them specifically to teach in high-need secondary schools.

“Our schools are our most strategic investment in the future,” said Deal. “I’m confident these educators share my belief that every child can learn and should have access to an education that prepares them for college, the workforce and beyond. The inaugural class of Georgia Teaching Fellows will gain the training necessary to serve as a lifeline for students to a high-quality education, and I’m grateful to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for its investment in our state’s students.”

The Fellowship focuses on preparing top-quality educators for many of Georgia’s most underserved public schools. Each Fellow receives $30,000 to complete a specially designed, cutting-edge master’s degree program based on a year-long classroom experience. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in the urban and rural Georgia schools that most need strong STEM teachers. Throughout the three-year commitment, Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring.

Woodrow Wilson Fellows

The 12 Columbus State University 2015 Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows, their majors and their hometowns are:

1. Allen Clarkson, biology, Darien, Ga.
2. Kelly Colburn, math, Smiths Station, Ala.
3. Olivia (Blair) Fine, biology, Lawrenceville, Ga.
4. Brandon Hewitt, math, Atlanta, Ga.
5. Ashley Hunter, chemistry, Columbus, Ga.
6. Mark Kagika, math, Austell, Ga.
7. Autumn McMunn, math, Florence, Ala.
8. Brian Moler, math, Cheyenne, Wyo.
9. Lauren Pace, biology, Milledgeville, Ga.
10. Althea Roy, chemistry, Stone Mountain, Ga.
11. Marcus Stevens, math/physics, Senoia, Ga.
12. Melissa Youngs, chemistry/biology minor, Milledgeville, Ga.

“We are very impressed with the high quality of the individuals in the first cohort of CSU Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows,” said Deborah Gober, professor of mathematics education and program director for CSU’s Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship. “Faculty have commented that the Fellows are some of the best students they have ever taught. They have demonstrated a great passion for and commitment to learning and teaching as they began their coursework and clinical experiences this summer.”

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation is administering the program, with in-state coordination by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Current project funding is $9.36 million.

“The future success of our communities, our schools and our children depends on a strong teacher workforce prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century classroom,” Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine said. “Through a wide range of efforts, Georgia has demonstrated its commitment to school improvement and closing achievement gaps. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation welcomes this year’s class of Fellows and is excited about working with Georgia universities and school districts to help improve teacher preparation and to ensure that every Georgia child has excellent teachers year after year.”

The university partners, selected in a statewide review by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, have spent the past year and a half tailoring their teacher preparation programs to meet the Fellowship’s standards for intensive clinical work and rigorous related coursework. Georgia State University and Mercer University will join Columbus State, Kennesaw State and Piedmont in offering Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships for the 2016-17 academic year.

All five participating universities receive $400,000 matching grants to develop their teacher preparation programs based on standards set by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. For each of the program’s three years, the participating Georgia colleges and universities will be able to enroll 12 fellows, totaling 180 fellows over the three-year period.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation is also partnering with a wide range of school districts across the state on this effort.

Through the Teaching Fellowship program, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation will contribute to the University System of Georgia’s initiative to produce 20,000 new teachers by 2020.

“The Georgia Partnership has long supported strategies to improve teacher effectiveness,” said Georgia Partnership President Steve Dolinger. “The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship will not only help improve the teacher training programs at five universities in partnership with several of their local school systems but will also produce more STEM teachers for our state. Both goals are timely for Georgia. We are proud to help coordinate these efforts over the next several years.”

Georgia joins Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio as Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship states. The Georgia program brings the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s total commitment to the Fellowship to nearly $90 million. More information on the national program can be found at